Life in Turkey from the inside: a Russian woman described the pros and cons


Türkiye is a country of contrasts. This is noticeable in the tourist Antalya. The city is conditionally divided into Turkish and European regions. You will notice the transition from one to another immediately – clean paths, neat park areas, cute cafes and shops – all these benefits of civilization are provided to foreigners.

Turkish areas have significantly more mosques and no bars or restaurants that have alcohol on the menu. But there are many pastry shops, some work around the clock. The level of service is also different – in the European part everything is a little more expensive, but better.

New buildings in Turkey are for the most part inferior to those in Russia. The mild climate and local building standards have an effect. There are usually not so many complaints about the building itself and finishing, but it is better to control the installation of engineering systems on your own, otherwise you can expect leaks and problems with plumbing.

In Turkey, it is necessary to conclude a separate contract with each service provider: water, electricity, gas, home maintenance services, Internet, sometimes even security. As a result, you have to carefully monitor the terms of payment for each of the contracts. Late payment even for 1-2 months can easily lead to disconnection, litigation and weeks without water or Internet in the apartment.

Without a special banking application, which not all banks have, payment must be made “the old fashioned way” – at the offices of individual companies. If you have several apartments, it is quite possible to spend a whole day on this. In Moscow, many have forgotten about problems of this kind, but Turkey is re-accustoming to keeping a bill payment journal.

I follow all the rules, but I still regularly encounter interruptions in the supply of water, electricity or the Internet. Interruptions happen regularly both day and night. Once I sat for 6 hours without electricity. Local friends confirmed to me that this is the norm here.

Utilities are usually 30-50% more expensive than in Moscow, especially gas fees. Despite the fact that Antalya is a southern resort, you have to drown at least 4-5 months a year, it costs a pretty penny. For a small apartment, I got an amount of 4-5 thousand rubles – only for gas.

Many residents from disadvantaged areas use potbelly stoves and heat with firewood. Gas and its connection are too expensive for them. Because of this, some areas are covered with thick smog in winter. The smell is similar to that when baths are heated in winter, but more pungent and thick. At first, I tried not to open the windows, because my eyes immediately began to water. However, after a month, she practically stopped noticing this smoke screen. Perhaps she’s used to it.

“I would not dare to drive here”

At first, I was extremely annoyed by the habit of some citizens to throw garbage directly onto the sidewalk. In my presence, the man came out of the store, took out a paper-wrapped bun from the bag, unwrapped it and threw the plastic bag, along with the paper, right at his feet. The trash can was four meters away. I remember that at that time I could hardly restrain myself from not making a remark to him. But, as they say, they don’t go to a strange monastery with their charter.

However, I cannot say that this is a distinctive feature of the Turks. Compatriots and tourists from other countries can also sin like this. The beautiful Duden waterfall, for example, is littered with bags, plastic cups, cigarette butts and mountains of seed husks.

The problem often pops up in various groups in social networks. Visitors swear at the locals and agitate compatriots to come out on subbotniks. In Turkish groups, “yabanji” (foreigner. – Note. ed.) and complain that “it used to be better.” One thing pleases in this: one way or another, but everyone does not like garbage, which means that there is hope that the problem will someday be solved.

Another feature of the Turks is the complete lack of a culture of behavior on the roads. In Moscow, I used to cross the road on a green light at a pedestrian crossing. Here, a car or a motorcyclist can kill me even on the sidewalk. Over time, I began to perceive the traffic light as a props and cross the road where I myself want. It turned out to be even more convenient, although I realize that I am becoming a participant in this general chaos.

“Turkey has very aggressive driving. I would not dare to drive here, – I confess to one taxi driver. “Yes, it is absolutely true. But in Antalya, the drivers are especially bad,” he agrees, before that, almost knocking down a pedestrian on a zebra.

The taxi call system here is also very different from the Russian one. The whole city is divided into zones, which are served by a certain taxi fleet. You go outside, look for a pole with a special yellow button, press and wait. How long it will take is unknown. Planning your time is therefore quite difficult.

There is a service like Uber, but in Turkey it is not yet so firmly established. Drivers take the call, and it even shows where the car is and how long it will take, but often at the last moment the taxi driver himself cancels the trip. The reasons for such decisions are still unclear to me.

Of course, in Turkey there are drivers who follow traffic rules, drive carefully, let pedestrians pass in the places prescribed for this, but you rarely meet them.

“Alcohol can be bought around the clock”

The whole life of the Turks is built around the family. Children can live with their parents until quite adulthood, visiting most relatives on holidays and weekends is mandatory. In Antalya, this is especially noticeable. Many come to the beach in large groups, take chairs, tables, food and drinks with them and spend time by the sea until late at night.

Free relations between women and men are not welcome. Couples without a formal marriage may not even register in the same hotel room. And most nightclubs and some bars cannot be entered without an escort.

Despite the calls to prayer that sound five times a day, in large cities (Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir) there are a lot of women and men on the street who do not follow Sharia rules in terms of choosing clothes and drinking alcohol. Alcohol can be bought everywhere in special shops or large supermarkets. It seemed to me that women cover their heads in one case out of ten, although in the east of the country the situation is a little different.

Films and advertisements where the image of a woman is more “European” than “Oriental” are quite acceptable and popular.

Turkey is quite strongly integrated into the world culture, but nevertheless it has its own essential features. In cinemas you can find world blockbusters, but the music scene here is completely authentic and original. It is extremely rare to find European hits on the radio, and one of the most popular genres is the so-called “arabesque” (a direction in oriental music), which cannot be found in countries other than Turkey.

Most residence permits tourist

It is relatively easy to obtain a residence permit in the country, despite the restrictions that were introduced at the beginning of 2023.

Previously, in order to obtain an ikamet (the right to reside in the country), it was enough to rent an apartment from a Turk for a period of at least six months.

Now the requirements have changed: a justification of income is required, a tourist program for the duration of residence (most residence permits are issued precisely as tourists who have come for a long time), sometimes they require bank statements and other documents. In addition, some areas are closed to obtaining a residence permit, this must also be taken into account.

At the beginning of the year, there were cases when compatriots rented apartments in such areas or made mistakes when submitting documents – and were denied a residence permit. It was quite massive. I had to leave, leaving large sums to the Turkish “landlords”. Although many were in position and returned the deposit.

Turkey also provides a residence permit when buying real estate for any amount, and if the amount is more than 50 thousand dollars (75 thousand for large cities) – after 4-5 years, a foreigner can apply for a Turkish passport. To do this, you will need to pass an exam for knowledge of the Turkish language. For the purchase of real estate worth more than 400 thousand dollars (or by opening an investment bank account for the same amount) – a foreigner will receive a Turkish passport immediately.

The main thing to remember is that the legislation regarding the stay of foreigners is constantly changing, primarily due to the large number of refugees from Syria and other states. To avoid problems, all this must be monitored.

Construction and sale of real estate to foreigners is a very large and profitable industry in Turkey, the law in this area works and does not scare off potential buyers. Despite the dissatisfaction with rising housing prices among Turks, the law protects the rights of potential foreign buyers and does not restrict their rights.

It should also be taken into account that in dealing with the local bureaucracy, you need to know a lot of nuances and pitfalls. The downside is also the sluggishness of local governments. Turks are for the most part very friendly and helpful, but language barriers and ever-changing legislation can make things difficult.

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